Calvert County, Maryland

April 22, 2024

Calvert County, Maryland

Balancing Growth with Tradition


Paving the way for a future where economic prosperity and environmental stewardship coexist.

Calvert County, a picturesque enclave in the heart of Maryland, boasts a unique blend of rural charm and accessible waterfront living. With the Chesapeake Bay on one side and the Patuxent River on the other, residents enjoy the best of both worlds: the tranquility of country living and the allure of water-based activities. It’s a place where community ties run deep, and the beauty of nature is never more than a stone’s throw away.

Mark Willis, the County Administrator, articulates the essence of Calvert County’s appeal. “What is very attractive about Calvert County is we’re a very rural county, but we’re also a peninsula. So we enjoy not only the rural nature of our environment here, trees and farm fields, etc., but we also enjoy the fact that we’re just a couple of miles away from the Chesapeake Bay, and we’re a couple of miles away from the Patuxent River.”

Moreover, the sense of community within Calvert County is evident. “I think we have a small community network. So everybody knows everybody and we enjoy a hometown feeling here,” Willis shares. This close-knit atmosphere fosters a sense of belonging and support among residents, enhancing the quality of life in this idyllic setting.


Blending Nature, Recreation, and Development

Calvert County champions proactive planning and community wellness, which is particularly evident in its parks, recreation, and residential development strategies. Director of Parks and Recreation Bob Branham further emphasizes the integral role of parks and recreation in the fabric of Calvert County’s community life, especially in light of recent global challenges.

“We have new parks coming online,” Branham begins, detailing the Gatewood Preserve’s forthcoming amenities, like a kayak launch and hiking trails, which promise to enhance public access to the pristine Patuxent watershed. The mention of the Dominion Energy Regional Park, with its final stages of construction documentation underway, signals a further expansion of the county’s recreational spaces. This rekindled recognition has underscored parks and recreation’s mission to bolster community health and well-being through leisure and nature-based activities.

Regarding residential development, Julie Oberg, Director of Economic Development, points out the county’s strategic approach to balance commercial growth with open space preservation. “All of the development is focused in the town centers to preserve the open space outside of the town centers,” Oberg explains. This careful delineation ensures that while development proceeds, it does so in designated areas, safeguarding the county’s rural character and natural landscapes.

Mary Beth Cook, Director of Planning and Zoning, chimes in and outlines the county’s execution of its comprehensive plan. “We have several projects underway in various stages,” she notes, describing efforts to channel residential growth into the seven town centers identified decades ago. These endeavors include apartment and townhouse projects in Prince Frederick and forthcoming condominiums in Solomons, addressing the pressing need for diverse housing options in a predominantly single-family residential landscape.

Revitalizing Calvert County’s Town Centers

In Calvert County, the vision for vibrant, bustling town centers is rapidly unfolding, propelled by master planning and innovative development projects. These efforts aim to enhance the county’s appeal as a place to live, work, and play, bringing together a mix of commercial, recreational, and cultural amenities that cater to the diverse needs of its residents. Director of Economic Development Oberg shares insights into the transformation within the county’s town centers, highlighting specific initiatives to bolster commercial options and overall attractiveness.

“Each of the town centers does have a master plan,” she notes, emphasizing the structured approach to development. She introduces Armory Square, a pivotal project converting 18 acres of a former middle school site into a mixed-use retail and commercial hub. This development is set to feature a range of dining, office spaces, and anchor stores, promising to become a cornerstone of community engagement and economic activity.

Further enhancing the town center’s appeal, Oberg details plans for a complementary development opposite Armory Square. “We’re going to be building a multi-use, open-air pavilion,” she explains. Envisioned to host a farmers market, seasonal ice skating rink, and more, this space, supported by a $2 million state grant, aims to provide a versatile venue for arts, entertainment, and commerce, enriching the community’s social fabric.

Oberg also addresses the broader goal of revitalization, particularly in Prince Frederick, the county seat. The construction of a new county administration building symbolizes a commitment to centralizing services and enhancing accessibility for residents. This move not only streamlines operations but also opens up opportunities for the redevelopment of Main Street, aiming to attract more restaurants and storefronts to the downtown area. “We’re looking to revitalize our downtown area,” she states, “to support a walkable community enriched by new housing and commercial prospects.”

Economic Growth and Healthcare Innovation

Calvert County strategically positions itself as an economic and healthcare hub in the region, leveraging its geographic location, infrastructure, and community assets to attract businesses and enhance resident services. With initiatives ranging from developing industrial parks to partnerships with world-renowned healthcare providers, the county is laying a robust foundation for sustainable growth and improved quality of life.

Oberg elaborates on the economic development strides made, particularly within the industrial sector. “We’ve got the Patuxent Business Park, also an opportunity zone. It’s a 92-acre corporate business campus with lots of green space,” she explains. This endeavor aims to attract mid-range industrial businesses to the county, capitalizing on its proximity to significant landmarks and urban centers, including Washington, D.C., and the Patuxent Naval Air Station.

In addition to economic development, Oberg touches upon initiatives to boost tourism and enhance healthcare services. “We have one other project that we’re working on as well… the Chesapeake Bay passenger ferry feasibility study,” she mentions, outlining a vision to create a network of ferry stops around the bay to stimulate tourism and economic growth. This innovative project aims to provide experiential travel opportunities that capitalize on the county’s natural assets, potentially transforming how residents and visitors explore the Chesapeake Bay area.

On the healthcare front, Oberg shares exciting developments that promise to elevate the quality of medical care available within the county. “Calvert Health is the main independent hospital here in Calvert County, and they have a new partnership they’re working with, Duke Health,” she reveals. This collaboration is set to bring state-of-the-art, world-renowned cancer care to the county, mitigating the need for residents to travel extensively for treatment. Furthermore, the construction of a new three-story medical pavilion in Prince Frederick is expected to attract more medical providers to the area and meet the community’s growing healthcare needs.


Championing Green Initiatives and Smart Growth

Calvert County’s leadership is deeply committed to harmonizing development with environmental stewardship, exemplifying a progressive approach to sustainable living and rural preservation. County Administrator Willis shares insights into the symbiotic relationship between Calvert County and its municipalities, highlighting the mutual respect and collaboration that underpin their joint efforts toward sustainability.

“Both mayors are on speed dial,” he jests, signifying the close-knit nature of their working relationships. He proudly recounts the county’s efforts in land preservation, underpinning its longstanding commitment to environmental protection. “We protected the rural character by smartly moving that growth into the town center,” Willis explains, demonstrating a strategic approach to development that minimizes environmental impact.

Discussing green energy, Willis acknowledges the county’s support for solar power, albeit with a cautious approach to ensure it complements the rural aesthetic. “We are all for solar for sure… our concern would be the permitting of solar because we want to align green initiatives with the retention of that beautiful rural character,” he elaborates. This careful balancing act is crucial in preserving the county’s essence while embracing sustainable energy solutions.

Looking ahead, Willis underscores the importance of coordinated planning and development, especially given the county’s geographical constraints as a peninsula. He highlights the extensive review process for development projects involving multiple agencies to mitigate the impact on transportation and preserve the county’s rural charm. “We’re very in tune with synchronizing our growth with the impact on our road network,” he states, affirming the county’s dedication to intelligent, sustainable development.

A Unified Vision for a Thriving Calvert County

As Calvert County moves forward, its leadership team presents a cohesive vision harmonizing economic development, environmental preservation, community engagement, and governmental transparency. Each department head articulates distinct goals for the year ahead, reflecting a shared commitment to cultivating a community that balances growth with sustainability.

Director of Economic Development Oberg outlines her department’s ambition to propel sustainable economic development that aligns with community desires and environmental preservation. “It’s a constant challenge and a balancing act for us,” she admits, emphasizing the effort to build a thriving economy based on business development, business retention, tourism, and agriculture.

Meanwhile, Director of Planning and Zoning Cook speaks to the goal of modernizing the county’s zoning ordinance, reflecting evolving land uses and community needs. “Our goal in planning and zoning this year is to adopt a new Calvert County zoning ordinance,” she states, stressing the importance of keeping pace with developments such as Airbnb and tiny houses. This effort offers flexibility and ensures zoning regulations align with contemporary development trends and citizen expectations.

Director of Parks and Recreation Branham emphasizes Parks and Recreation’s commitment to enriching community life by providing diverse nature and activity opportunities that bolster public health, personal well-being, and the local economy. He announces the impending launch of a state-of-the-art clubhouse at the county’s golf course, envisioned as a premier wedding and event venue. “We hope that it’s going to become a premier wedding and event venue for Southern Maryland,” Branham expresses, showcasing an initiative expected to attract residents and visitors to the county.

Finally, County Administrator Willis articulates a guiding principle of enhancing transparency between the government and its citizens. “If I can continue to improve transparency…for all citizens, for all reasons…we are doing everything that we can,” he asserts, delineating a mission to ensure citizens have unfettered access to services, elected officials, and information. This transparency is foundational, intended to bolster trust and facilitate engagement across all facets of county life.

Together, these leaders paint a picture of a Calvert County ready for thoughtful growth, deepened community connections, and an unwavering allegiance to serving its residents. Their unified efforts aim to preserve the county’s unique character while embracing opportunities for innovation and development, ensuring Calvert County remains a desirable destination for living, working, and leisure.


Calvert County

What: A model of sustainable development and community engagement in Maryland

Where: Maryland, USA



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